Once Avatar: The Last Airbender was added to Netflix, I was one of the many people ready to relive childhood nostalgia through watching the series. Since it had been added to Netflix a few months ago, I have re-watched the series twice now. As I watched it, I found myself admiring Katara’s character the same way I did when I first watched the series back in 2005.
Beginning with the surface level of her character, she stood out to me because of her skin color. Being a woman of color and a young girl when I first saw her, I thought it was so cool that I could see a character who looked like me. Then in the first episode, she immediately shows us viewers how she is so much more than someone to cook and clean for her older brother, Sokka. As the show progresses, she continues to be a force to be reckoned with as she improves her waterbending. Although she receives the help of Pakku, a waterbending master, and occasionally trains with Aang, the avatar, I believe the reason why Katara was able to become so powerful is because of her own determination.
Katara is a headstrong character, which ironically is one of the qualities that earthbenders have, but she also has a deep sense of community, which is associated with the water tribe. Since I myself can be very stubborn, I found her character even more relatable. The way she is able to have the ability to be strong while also being empathetic is what makes her a more believable character and is why I believe she is so well-written.
In my opinion, the episodes that showed her duality of personality well was The Puppetmaster (Season 3, Episode 8) and The Southern Raiders (Season 3, Episode 16). In the Puppetmaster, Katara finds herself in a bittersweet situation when, after meeting Hana, a waterbender from the Southern Water Tribe like herself, she finds out she is a bloodbender. This goes against Katara’s moral compass, but in order to save her friends she must bloodbend. By the end of the episode, she was absolutely broken since it went against her compassionate nature. In the battle, it not only showed her fierceness when taking down a master bloodbender, but also her humanity. As for the Southern Raiders episode, she has the chance to find the man who killed her mother. Katara is no longer the scared, young girl like she was when she first came in contact with the soldier, so she was ready to take him out on her own. However, at the last second instead of having her final attack go through, she had the icicles turn into water and fall onto him. Even if Katara was full of anger, she still stayed true to her own morals. The episode was emotional and showed how healing is never a linear thing, and can sometimes go the opposite way you expect it to go.
All in all, what makes Katara so amazing is the way she is relatable. She can be stubborn, but also selfless. She is strong, but also empathetic. Besides this, she is one of the most powerful benders in the series. From challenging her bending teacher when she barely started waterbending to taking down firebending prodigy Azula, she is so powerful and a lovable character overall.